What does a birthmark look like?

Birthmarks, also called macular stains, stork bites, salmon patches or angel kisses, occur in about one-third of newborn infants. They are flat, pink or red marks with irregular borders. They may become darker with crying or room temperature changes.

They are most often seen in the middle of the forehead, eyelids, tip of the nose, upper lip, and at the hairline on the back of the neck, where they are called stork bites.

When found on the forehead between the eyebrows or on the eyelids, they are sometimes called angel kisses.

They fade with pressure, but when the pressure is removed, the reddish appearance returns.

What causes a birthmark and who gets them?

As with many other conditions, the exact causes are unknown.

Most vascular birthmarks are not inherited, nor are they caused by anything that happens to the mother during pregnancy.

Birthmarks occur in 40% to 70% of newborns and are the most common type of vascular anomaly.

Will a birthmark change?

Most birthmarks clear up by themselves over a period of months and are gone by the time your child is 18 months of age. Those on the back of the neck may stay for years.

I think I've seen a birthmark on my child. What do I do now?

Someone who is familiar with birthmarks should see your child to determine that the mark is a birthmark rather than a port wine stain or hemangioma, which needs closer care.

How will Seattle Children's diagnose a birthmark?

The diagnosis is usually made by the physical appearance.

Your child's doctor will assess your child to make certain that the stain is a birthmark, which needs no treatment, rather than a more complex lesion.

How will Seattle Children's treat a birthmark?

Facial birthmarks regress completely by age 1 or 2 years. Neck birthmarks may persist for life, but they are generally covered by hair. No treatment is required for this type of skin condition.